Here at CHRONEXT, we're more than a little excited about next week's Baselworld, the annual watch fair where companies unveil their latest and most remarkable models. Everyone has their own particular brands they are looking forward to, but one that many are keeping an eye on this year is, of course, Omega.
One of Switzerland's most renowned and successful firms, Omega's debuts at Baselworld are always among the most eagerly anticipated. There will doubtless be stiff competition with the Rolex Baselworld stall for the most highly attended. Omega has long been a perennial draw at Basel, as an exhibitor for well over half a century. Many of its most famous achievements, like the co-axial escapement, were first launched at the show. Recent years have been no less impressive.
2015 saw a series of gorgeous new versions of the iconic Omega Speedmaster, as well as a brilliant renovation of the Globemaster, with vintage design elements and a cutting-edge movement. 2016 was a great year for the legendary Seamaster, with dashing new Omega Planet Ocean models, along with impressive updates for the Aqua Terra, Constellation and more.
Last year's Baselworld continued to wow all comers, and saw the brand forge ahead with its remarkable new movements boasting the recently unveiled METAS quality certification. It was a big year for Omega, which released a 60th anniversary edition "trilogy" set for three of its best-known timepieces: Railmaster, Speedmaster and Seamaster 300. With black, "tropical" dials and a host of subtle vintage touches, the three pieces were a huge hit for old and new fans alike, and uncannily exact in their recreation of the 1957 originals, down to the tiniest detail (including the retro packaging).
Three new Aqua Terra models were also popular, with a few sophisticated tweaks to the design, including the surprisingly impactful change of the "teak" patterning from vertical to horizontal. Spirits were further lifted by the loveable Big Blue Planet Ocean model, with its boisterous, highly aquatic colours, GMT complication and astonishing blue ceramic case.
Other watch families were not forgotten. The Speedmaster received two striking new models called the Racing Master Chronometer - one in black, white and orange, and the other in blue with a sumptuous Sedna gold case (the brand's proprietary alloy, appearing in increasing numbers of Omega watches). Finally, there was a delightful range of new 38mm Seamasters, in a variety of well-chosen new colour combinations.
Perhaps thanks to the known anniversary year, many of the Omega Baselworld predictions that fans made for the 2017 fair ended up coming true. So what are people saying about this year? Will the forecasts for new Omega watches in 2018 prove as accurate as they were last year?
As well as being the brand's 170th birthday, there are a couple of more specific anniversaries this year. Not as major as last year, perhaps, but 2018 will mark 40 years since the Alaska III, the very limited Speedy built for use on the Space Shuttle. It's also 50 years since the Apollo VIII mission, in which Omega-sporting astronauts orbited the Moon for the first time. Both are good bets for possible limited editions this year. There's even 70 years since the very first 1948 Seamaster, often neglected by the history books because it was quite unlike (and less successful than) its younger brothers, being a dress watch with poor water resistance, linked to the Olympic Games in London.
For our own part, we are expecting to see a continued focus on superb "Master Chronometer"-certified movements, such as the anti-magnetic calibre 8806 that we saw in the 2017 Railmaster, as well as the brand's favourite high tech materials: ceramic, silicon and Sedna gold. We would love to see more attention-to-detail recreations of the classics (a panda-dial Speedy? Or maybe even the beloved Ranchero?!), but there's certainly room for creative and original modern takes on fan favourites too. We're also hoping for further interest in Omega watches for women, which went a little under the radar in 2017.
Another potential guide to what's to come at Baselworld could be found in the form of Omega's 2018 "pre-Basel" release: a gorgeous quintet of Olympic Seamasters. The company has a long connection with the Olympics, of course, as the official timekeeper since the 1932 Los Angeles Games. The super-cool limited edition set boasts a wonderful design inspired by a stopwatch from the 1976 Montreal Games, and the caseback lists every Olympic city since 1932.
The other pre-Basel reveal, we were pleased to see, is a stunning all-new range of Omega ladies watches. The Trésor collection - named after but quite different to the De Ville Trésor of yesteryear - features an amazing design with oversized Roman numerals on the dial, and floral patterns that blend the Omega logo on the caseback and crown. It is available in both 39 and 36mm, in both steel and gold, each tastefully set with diamonds on the bezel.
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